Is it time we shift our focuses from Disability Awareness to Disability Acceptance?

As I was scanning through articles online and thinking about what I should write this post on, I stumbled across an article called “20 ways to Teach Non-disabled Kids about their Disabled Peers”. The title caught my eye because I immediately thought it could have be said in a different way but I decided to have a look anyway.

The article was written by a parent who does not have a child with disability, yet noticed the importance of teaching children about people with disabilities. Immediately I tried to remember things that my teachers and parents said to me when I was young and curious. The one thing that came to my mind is that they always told me “He/She is special and different”; but the conversation always had to end at that point when the person telling me seemed uncomfortable. It seemed like I was being taught to see the person with disabilities and understand that they need extra help that abled-body people may not. Knowing everything that we have learned through this semester I wish I could go back and tell my parents that this it SO important to acknowledge your child’s curiosity and let them explore it.

Let’s move past awareness…is there anyone who is not aware that autism exists, or that there are children and adults living with either disease or disability? We don’t just want you aware….we want to be accepted and included. And inclusion means contributing! Not just passively watching, participating.

The quote above is from the article and it resonated with me because I honestly think the majority of people believe they do what needs to be done for this group of people. After hearing first hand stories from Brett and seeing this quote, I realized that there is so much more to be done in order to accept these people. We can start the education process for acceptance when kids are young so that they have a positive view/source of information from the start. Teaching kids early on would create a huge ripple effect in my opinion. They are young and are more likely to call out something that they hear and think is not right. Helping them learn the correct language could inspire elders in their own family to take a step back and see if they are as inclusive to people with disabilities as they think they are.

The mother who wrote the article shared that she reached out to her son’s preschool to see if they could teach the kids simple, respectful ways to be inclusive of everyone. They agreed to teach an entire unit on it and push the importance of inclusivity in every way. This is what it means to contribute to the movement of something that is very long overdue. We need to start transitioning from “Is this accessible?” to “Is this universally accessible to people with different disabilities?”